Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress

Contents - Preface - Library of Congress - Collections
Buildings - Librarians - Further Reading - Concordance


The enormous size and variety of its collections make the Library of Congress the largest library in the world. True to the Jeffersonian ideal, the collections are comprehensive in scope, including research materials in more that 450 languages and in many media.

The growth of the collections is relentless. Materials come to the Library through an acquisitions program that extends throughout the world and includes over fifteen thousand agreements with foreign governments and research institutions for the exchange of research materials; gifts; purchases; transfers from other U.S. government agencies; and copyright deposits. Each day about thirty-one thousand items arrive at the Library; approximately seven thousand of these items will become part of the permanent collections. The Library, however, defers to the National Library of Medicine and the National Agricultural Library for intensive collecting in the fields of clinical medicine and technical agriculture, respectively.

Thumbnail image of map of North America Thumbnail image of Cattleya 
Labiate Depiction of the world and its wonders: The rendering of Cattleya Labiate is from Conrad Loddiges & Sons' The Botanical Cabinet published in London between 1817 and 1833, and located in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. The Geography and Map Division holds this map of North America. Engraved by Dutch map publisher Cornelius de Jode in 1578, it is one of the earliest maps reflecting expeditioners' reports.

In 1992, the Library acquired its 100 millionth item. The collections now include approximately fifteen million books, thirty-nine million manuscripts, thirteen million photographs, four million maps, more than three-and-a-half million pieces of music, and more than half a million motion pictures. The Library's collection of more than 5,600 incunabula (books printed before 1500) is the largest in the Western Hemisphere and its collections of maps, atlases, newspapers, music, motion pictures, photographs, and microforms are probably the largest in the world. In addition, the Library holds newspapers, prints, posters, drawings, talking books, technical reports, videotapes and disks, computer programs, and other audio, visual, and print materials.

The collections are especially strong in American history, politics, and literature; music; geography; law and particularly foreign law; economics; genealogy and U.S. local history; U.S. public documents; publications of learned societies from around the world; the history of science; libraries and librarianship; and bibliography in all subjects. In addition to the personal papers of American presidents from Washington through Coolidge, the Library's manuscript holdings include the papers of eminent figures, mostly American, in government, the arts, and the sciences.

One would expect the Library of Congress to be strong in Americana, but many of its foreign language collections also are exceptional. Foreign newspapers and gazettes are a special strength; for example, the Library acquires fourteen newspapers from Cuba, twenty from Romania, and eleven from Thailand. Moreover, approximately two-thirds of the books in its collections are in languages other than English. Its Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Polish collections are the largest outside of those countries, and the Arabic collections are the largest outside of Egypt. Its collection of Luso-Hispanic materials is the largest in the world.

The resources of the Library of Congress, unique in scope and size, are organized into two major categories: the general or classified book and pamphlet collections, which are accessible through the Library's cataloging and retrieval system in the general reading rooms; and the special format, language, and subject collections, which are made available through a variety of cataloging and reference tools in specialized reading rooms, including a machine-readable collections reading room. Copyright deposits constitute the core of the general collections and many of the special collections, particularly the map, motion picture, music, photograph, and print collections.

The Library's role as a copyright depository has contributed to the popular belief that it contains one copy of every book published in the United States. It does not. Its collections are the most comprehensive in the country, but it is not a library of record in the legal sense; it is not required to retain all copyright deposits and, except for the period 1870-1909, it has never attempted to do so.

Historical highlights in the development of the Library's collections are presented below. The emphasis is on legislation, policies, and precedents that have shaped the growth of the collections and thus the services and activities of the entire Library. The acquisition of many of the Library's best-known collections also is noted.


Pres. John Adams approves an act of Congress for the "accommodation of the Government of the United States" in the new capital city of Washington and the establishment of the Library of Congress.


The first books, ordered from London, arrive and are stored in the Capitol. The collection consists of 740 volumes and three maps.


The Library's first catalog is published. It lists the collection of 964 volumes according to their size and appends a list of nine maps and charts.


Library Committee chairman Samuel Latham Mitchell, a senator from New York, urges the expansion of the Library: "Every week of the session causes additional regret that the volumes of literature and science within the reach of the national legislature are not more rich and ample."


After capturing the city of Washington, the British burn the U.S. Capitol, destroying the Library of Congress. Thomas Jefferson, in retirement at Monticello, offers to sell his personal library to the Library Committee of Congress in order to "recommence" the Congressional Library. He explains: "I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer."


Pres. James Madison approves an act of Congress appropriating $23,950 for the acquisition of Jefferson's library of 6,487 volumes. The Library also adopts the classification scheme devised by Jefferson.


The annual appropriation to the Library for the purchase of books is raised to $5,000.


A separate "apartment" for the law collection is established, along with a separate appropriation for the purchase of law books.

Thumbnail image of The Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of 
Pisa, Italy Thumbnail image of prize-winning 
technique for adding color to black-and-white negatives "The Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy" is one of sixty hand-colored plates from Excursions Daguerriennes: Vues et Monuments les plus Remarquables du Globe, 1842, an extraordinary volume presenting early daguerreotype views from around the world, transferred onto copper plates and printed by letterpress. In the 1880s, Photoglob of Zurich developed a prize-winning technique for adding color to black-and-white negatives and some of the results are pictured here. Both Excursions Daguerrienes and the entire Photoglob output---some six thousand color photos of people and places around the world--- are in the Prints and Photographs Division. (Photograph on right by Reid Baker)


Addressing the American Historical Society, Secretary of War Lewis Cass advocates the expansion of the Library of Congress "in all the departments of human learning, as it will render it worthy of the age and country and elevate it to an equality with those great repositories of knowledge which are among the proudest ornaments of modern Europe."


By a vote of seventeen to sixteen, the U.S. Senate rejects the purchase of the 25,000-volume Bourtoulin library, a rich collection of early Italian, Greek, and Latin works. The purchase was strongly recommended by Library Committee Chairman William Preston, senator from South Carolina, who cited Jefferson's very wise and pointed statement that "there is no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer."


The Library Committee authorizes the first exchange of official publications with foreign nations.


The law establishing the Smithsonian Institution gives the Library of Congress, along with the Smithsonian, one copy of each copyrighted "book, map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving."


A fire in the Library's principal room in the Capitol destroys 35,000 of its 55,000-volume collection, including two-thirds of Jefferson's library.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science advocates "a geographical library" at the Library of Congress, pointing out that "there is not in the United States nor on this continent a single collection of geographical materials that is tolerably complete."


Responsibility for the international exchange of books and documents and for the distribution of public documents, heretofore functions of the Library of Congress, are transferred to the State Department and the Bureau of the Interior, respectively.

Thumbnail image of The Mongolian Buddhist SutraSome of the most glorious treasures of the Library of Congress are in the custody of the Asian Division. Among them are early block-printed books, a scroll sutra from 975 A.D., pictographic manuscripts from southwestern China, and an example of Japanese printing dating from 770 A.D. The Mongolian Buddhist Sutra---an exquisite creation in pen, ink, gouache, and brocaded silk on paper---dates from the eighteenth century.


The 1846 law providing copyright deposits to the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution is repealed.


Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford obtains approval for the expansion of the Library's room in the Capitol and for the reinstatement of the copyright privilege. The Library will receive, for its use, one copy of every copyrighted "book, pamphlet, map, chart, musical composition, print, engraving, or photograph."


The Smithsonian Institution's forty thousand-volume library, strong in scientific works and publications of the learned societies, is transferred to the Library. The Smithsonian retains use of the collection, which also will be available to the public "for purposes of consultation."


The Library becomes the recipient, through the Smithsonian Institution's document exchange system, of public documents published in foreign countries.


The private library of Peter Force is purchased for $100,000 and becomes the foundation of the Library's Americana and incunabula collections.


The emperor of China sends a gift of 933 volumes to the U.S. Government, a donation that forms the nucleus of the Library's Chinese collection.


Educator Francis Lieber donates three volumes to the Library. He inscribes them "To the National Library" and explains to Librarian Spofford: "It is not the official name, but I take the liberty. It is the name you have come to."


All U.S. copyright registration and deposit activities are centralized at the Library. Two copies of all copyrighted items are to be sent, along with pre-1870 copyright records and deposits.


Spofford reports to Congress that the increased receipts from the new copyright law "will soon compel the provision of more room for books." As one alternative, he suggests a separate building.

Thumbnail image of Experiments and 
Observations on Electricity Statesman, innovative printer, and accomplished writer Benjamin Franklin became the first American to achieve an international scientific reputation when his Experiments and Observations on Electricity was published in London in 1751 and was translated shortly thereafter into French. The copy from which this title page was reproduced is in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.


Spofford asks officials of twenty-six "leading" American cities to begin sending their city documents to the Library.


The Library Committee authorizes the Librarian to subscribe to at least two newspapers from each state. The newspapers are to reflect different political views.


A law is approved authorizing the donation of the forty thousand-volume private library of Washington physician Joseph Toner to the Library of Congress. Sen. John Sherman of Ohio, on behalf of the Joint Library Committee, notes that the Toner gift represents "the first instance in the history of this government of the free gift of a large and valuable library to the nation."


The U.S. government purchases a portion of the Benjamin Franklin papers; the books and pamphlets are sent to the Library of Congress.


The U.S. government purchases, for the Library of Congress, the papers and maps of Comte de Rochambeau.


A gift of 375 volumes from Sultan Abdul-Hamid II of Turkey, acquired through the efforts of Rep. Abram S. Hewitt of New York, establishes the nucleus of the Library's Turkish collection. Each volume is inscribed on the cover, in three languages, "To the national library of the United States of America."


The construction of a separate building for the Library is authorized.


The Library Committee, chaired by Sen. William M. Evarts of New York, notes that little has been done by the government to preserve valuable historical manuscripts, e.g., "Where are the papers, public and private, left by the Presidents of the United States since the time of Monroe? It recommends the creation of a separate department of manuscripts once the new Library building is opened.


A new copyright law affords protection to works of foreign origin under certain conditions of reciprocal protection and requires deposit of these works in the Library.


Librarian Spofford reports to Congress that it is impossible to provide information about the collections since overcrowding has forced their storage "in sixteen separate halls and storage rooms in the Capitol."


The Library acquires its first motion pictures in the form of Edison Kinetoscopic Records deposited for copyright by W.K.L. Dixon.


Approximately seventy tons of unclassified copyright deposits are transferred from the southern crypt under the Capitol to the basement of the nearly completed Library of Congress building.


The Library is reorganized and expanded prior to its move into the new building. The staff is increased from 42 to 108. Separate departments are established to house, serve, and cultivate the periodicals, manuscript, music, graphic arts, and map collections.


The Library's collections are transported across the east plaza of the Capitol to the new Library in horse-drawn wagons. Approximately eight hundred tons of material are moved.


Librarian of Congress John Russell Young asserts one "inflexible" rule regarding the impending reclassification of the Library's collections: "no method of classification should be favored which would disintegrate the general collection."


The Gardiner Greene Hubbard collection of engravings, the Library's first major collection of fine prints, is donated by his widow, Gertrude M. Hubbard.


Young explains that his paramount duty is "the strengthening of the Library as a collection of books," and that he looks forward to the day when the Library receives, in addition to copyright deposits, increased congressional appropriations for books and "gifts from private sources." He also announces the publication of "bibliographic bulletins" based on the collections, e.g., lists of books for Congress about Cuba and Hawaii.


Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam informs Congress that the Library's collection is "exceedingly defective" and "may be built up only by incessant solicitation, exchange, and purchase." He recommends $50,000 a year be spent on purchases.

Thumbnail image of map of the southwestern United States Thumbnail image of A Landsat map of Salt Lake Cit The Library's Geography and Map Division has the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world -- spanning many centuries and including maps in many forms. The colorful map of the southwestern United States, showing railroads converging on Wichita, Kansas from ten cities around the country, is one of five thousand maps in the division that record the achievements of early North American railroaders. A Landsat map of Salt Lake City is one of nearly seven million worldwide photographic images transferred to the Library by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Geological Survey, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


The Library publishes the first new classification schedule based on the reclassification of the collections, Class E and F: America: History and Geography and its first description of a manuscript collection, A Calendar of Washington Manuscripts in the Library of Congress.


The Library begins printing, selling, and distributing catalog cards for all books it is cataloging or recataloging.


Putnam reports that the Library's Orientalia collection of nearly ten thousand volumes appears to be "the largest representation in this country of the literature of the Far East."


A new law authorizes U.S. government agencies to transfer to the Library of Congress "any books, maps, or other material no longer needed for use."


Pres. Theodore Roosevelt issues an executive order that transfers, from the Department of State to the Library of Congress, the records and papers of the Continental Congress and the personal papers of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.


A cylinder recording of the voice of Kaiser Wilhelm II is presented to the Library and becomes the first phonograph record in the collections.

Thumbnail image of cylinder recording of the voice of Kaiser 
Wilhelm II The cylinder recording of the voice of Kaiser Wilhelm II given to the Library in 1904 became the nucleus of recorded sound collections that now include more than 1.3 million recordings of music and the spoken word from 1890 to the present. These collections include formats that demonstrate the remarkable progressive steps in the history of recording ---from wax cylinders to compact disks. (Photograph by Reid Baker)


Putnam announces a new program: the publication of historical texts from the Library's collections, beginning with the Journals of the Continental Congress and the Records of the Virginia Company.


The Library purchases a four thousand-volume collection of Indica, formerly the library of Albrecht Weber, professor of Sanskrit at the University of Berlin.


The Library begins a program for copying manuscripts in foreign archives that relate to American history.


Pres. Theodore Roosevelt congratulates Putnam on the purchase of the private library of G. V. Yudin of Siberia, which contains over eighty thousand volumes of Russian literature. The president notes that the acquisition will give the Library of Congress preeminence in this field.


Putnam announces the first large acquisition of Japanese books, nine thousand volumes selected in Japan by Kan-Ichi-Asakawa, a Yale University professor.


Putnam recommends to President Roosevelt the construction of a separate archives building to accommodate government administrative records "not appropriate for the collections of the Library."

Thumbnail image of watercolor wall plaque depicting the holy cities of the Holy Land The Hebraic Section, founded in 1914, has custody of all the Library's materials of research value in Hebrew and related languages. Among its holdings is this charming pastel watercolor wall plaque depicting the holy cities of the Holy Land -- Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed. The plaque was painted in Palestine in the second half of the nineteenth century.


The Library purchases, from Albert Schatz of Rostock Germany, his famous collection of more than twelve thousand early opera librettos.


The copyright law of 1909 authorizes the Librarian of Congress to sell, exchange, or transfer copyright deposits to other government agencies.


A collection of nearly ten thousand volumes and pamphlets of Hebraica, gathered by Ephraim Deinard, is donated to the Library by Jacob H. Schiff of New York City. Putnam calls it a notable foundation that will be expanded "into a significant department embracing all Semitica."


The American Printing House for the Blind begins depositing in the Library of Congress one copy of each embossed book that it produces with federal financial assistance.


Two drafts of Pres. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address are presented to the U.S. Government by the descendants of John Hay and placed in the Library of Congress.


The Library receives the first installment of the gift of the Theodore Roosevelt Papers, the first group of presidential papers received directly from a former president.


Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pennell present a valuable collection of prints and sketches by James Whistler to the Library, along with a collection of books and research materials about the artist and his era.


More than three hundred original daguerreotype portraits of prominent Americans made between the years 1845 and 1853 by the studio of photographer Mathew B. Brady are transferred to the Library from the U.S. Army War College.


The original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are transferred to the Library from the State Department.

Thumbnail image of La 
Historia Antigua de la Nueva España When the Peter Force Library was purchased by an act of Congress in 1867, the Library of Congress established its first major collections of eighteenth-century American newspapers, incunabula, early American imprints, manuscripts, and rare maps and atlases. Prominent among the manuscripts was Fray Diego Duran's La Historia Antigua de la Nueva España, 1585. Pictured is the title page from Chapter Five, "Which treats of how the Aztecs, counselled by their god, went to seek the prickly pear cactus and the eagle ... and about the agreement they made for the building of the city."


Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Pres. Abraham Lincoln, donates his father's papers to the Library.


A new law establishes the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, enabling the Library to accept gifts and bequests of personal property for the benefit of the Library.


Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge establishes an endowment to aid the Library's Music Division "in the development of the study, composition, and appreciation of music."


James B. Childs, Chief of the Documents Division, visits Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, and Russia "to form new connections" for the acquisition of government publications.


Archer M. Huntington of New York presents the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board with funds to establish an endowment "for the purchase of books relating to Spanish, Portuguese, and South American arts, crafts, literature, and history."


Putnam establishes an American folk song project in the Music Division to collect and preserve the folk songs and ballads now "endangered by the spread of the radio and phonograph."


Supreme Court Justice Harlan F. Stone testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee in support of a larger appropriation for the Law Library. He explains that he and Justice Louis B. Brandeis are both eager for the Library of Congress to develop "a great collection" which will be of service "for all time."


A law is approved authorizing the purchase for $1.5 million of the Vollbehr collection of incunabula, which includes more than three thousand items and one of three perfect vellum copies of the Gutenberg Bible.

Thumbnail image of Europe, A 
Prophecy Thumbnail image of De 
Consolatione Philosophiae The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection, comprising more than twenty-six hundred rare illustrated books, stands out among the distinguished resources of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Among the selection of works by William Blake in the Rosenwald Collection is the 1794 edition of Europe, A Prophecy, from which this page is reproduced. The page reproduced here is from the fifteenth-century folio edition of Anicius Boethius's great work De Consolatione Philosophiae.


A separate annual appropriation for books "for the use of the adult blind readers of the United States" is approved.


Putnam explains to Congress that the Library of Congress is now the largest library in the world, but he cautions that the methods of counting used by the British Museum Library and the French Bibliothéque Nationale "are somewhat different from ours, and it is not safe to undertake comparisons."


Gertrude Clarke Whittall establishes an endowment to support the "care and use" of the five Stradivari instruments she has donated to the Library.


Using funds received from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Library establishes a Photoduplication Service for the purpose of "competently supplying distant investigators with microfilm and other photoduplicates of materials otherwise not available for use outside Washington."


The Carnegie Corporation gives the Library a three-year grant for the development of its Indica collection.


The Library's committee on acquisitions, aided by specialists from the academic community, reports serious weaknesses in the Library's collections and recommends that the annual appropriation for book purchases be increased dramatically. Of the forty principal subjects in the Library's classification system, twelve are considered strong, thirteen are adequate, and fifteen are inadequate.


The first gift from the Gershwin family establishes the George and Ira Gershwin Collection.


The Library of Congress Works Projects Administration (WPA) Project begins collecting materials produced by the federal art, music, theatre, and writer's projects and the Historical Records Survey.


Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish announces a grant from the Carnegie Corporation to establish a recording laboratory in the Music Division.


Librarian MacLeish begins an administrative reorganization of the Library and presents comprehensive statements of the Library's acquisitions policies (The Canons of Selection) and of its research objectives (The Canons of Service).


MacLeish announces the establishment of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation Collection of Musical Autographs. The first purchase is a collection of original manuscripts by Beethoven, Brahms, Michael Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Wagner and Weber.


Uruguayan poet Emilio Oribe records one of his latest poems at the Library, inaugurating the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape.


The Library announces the gift of a "magnificent collection of rare books and manuscripts" from Lessing J. Rosenwald of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. Over five hundred choice rare books, many of them illustrated, are in the Rosenwald Collection. It includes more than two hundred incunabula.


In connection with its celebration of the bicentennial of Thomas Jefferson's birth, the Library publishes The Declaration of Independence: The Evolution of a Text by Julian P. Boyd. It also begins microfilming Jefferson's papers.


MacLeish announces the purchase of more than nine thousand negative plates and photographs by Arnold Genthe, "a pioneer in the field of photography." He also establishes a new committee "to insure the proper development" of the Library's photographic archive.

Thumbnail image of photograph of author 
Pearl Buck In 1943, the Library purchased the materials remaining in the studio of photographer Arnold Genthe (1869-1943) at the time of his death. This collection, approximately ten thousand negatives and eighty-seven hundred contact and enlargement prints, is the single largest assemblage of Genthe's work. Among Genthe's portraits of prominent artists is this exceptional photograph of author Pearl Buck, winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize in Literature.


The Library assumes custody of the Office of War Information collection of nearly 300,000 photographs, including the "photo-documentation of America" file organized by Roy E. Stryker in the Farm Security Administration from 1936 to 1942.


The Library purchases the personal library of Sheikh Mahmud al-Imam Mansuri of Cairo, which contains over five thousand books and manuscripts and greatly strengthens the Arabic collections.


Under the leadership of Librarian of Congress Luther H. Evans, the Library establishes a "mission in Europe" to obtain "multiple copies of European publications for the war period" for distribution to American libraries and research institutions. A cooperative acquisitions program for European wartime publications is established.


Edith Bolling Wilson, widow of the former president, donates the nine thousand-volume personal library of Woodrow Wilson to the Library.


The papers of Orville and Wilbur Wright, thirty thousand items in sixty-eight boxes and including 303 glass-plate negatives documenting their successes and failures with the new flying machines, are donated to the Library.


Chicago businessman Alfred Whital Stern donates "the most extensive collection of Lincoln literature ever assembled by a private individual" to the Library.


Lessing J. Rosenwald formally presents to the Library, as a gift to the nation, the Giant Bible of Mainz---a magnificent illuminated manuscript Bible written in Mainz, Germany, between April 4, 1452 and July 9, 1453.

Thumbnail image of a draft of O Captain! My Captain! Thumbnail image of photograph of Whitman, taken in his 
sitting-room in Camden, N.J. The Feinberg-Whitman Collection in the Manuscript Division, and the Walt Whitman Collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division constitute the largest group of materials relating to American poet Walt Whitman ever assembled. Pictured is a page from a draft of "O Captain! My Captain!" This photograph of Whitman was taken in his sitting room in Camden, N.J., where he lived the last eight years of his life.


The Joint Committee on the Library directs Librarian Evans to transfer the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States to the National Archives.


The Library receives the first installment of the Sigmund Freud papers.


The Library publishes the first of five volumes of a definitive catalog of Thomas Jefferson's personal library "as it was at the time of its sale to the Nation in 1815." E. Millicent Sowerby is the compiler.


The Library receives, as a gift, the Brady-Handy photographic collection, which contains over 3,000 negatives made by Civil War photographer Mathew B. Brady and several thousand plates made by his nephew, Levin C. Handy. The collection is donated by L.C. Handy's daughters.


Defending an increase in the Library's budget, Congressman Clarence Cannon of Missouri, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, states: "The Library of Congress is the greatest library in the world. It is the visible, irrefutable evidence of the academic and intellectual achievement of the American people. Let no action...retard the continued growth and development of this national institution."


Librarian of Congress L. Quincy Mumford establishes a committee on mechanical information retrieval to study "the problem of applying machine methods to the control of the Library's general collections."


Public Law 83-480 (P.L. 480) authorizes the Library to use U.S.- owned foreign currencies to acquire books, periodicals, and other materials for other libraries and research centers in the United States.


A grant from the Carnegie Corporation supports the establishment of an Africana section, enabling the Library "to exploit more fully its outstanding collection of Africana."


The Library's first P.L. 480 acquisitions offices open in New Delhi and Cairo.


The Library establishes a Children's Literature Center, "to serve those who serve children."


The Library receives the first installment of the gift of records of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an archive of more than one million items.


Title IIC of the Higher Education Act of 1965 authorizes the Library to acquire current library materials and provide cataloging information for these materials to libraries around the nation.


The Library's first overseas acquisitions office in the new National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging opens in London.


The Library and the American Film Institute conclude a cooperative agreement for the further development of the Library's national motion picture collection.


The Library announces the acquisition of the Charles E. Feinberg collection of Walt Whitman manuscripts, letter, books and memorabilia, which contains more than twenty thousand items.


Antiquarian bookdealer Hans P. Kraus donates to the Library a notable collection of 162 manuscripts relating to the history and culture of Spanish America in the colonial period.


The papers of Alexander Graham Bell and the Bell family papers are donated to the Library.


President Ford signs Public Law 94-201, the American Folklife Preservation Act, which establishes within the Library the American Folklife Center "to preserve and present American Folklife."


The Library receives the gift of the Erwin Swann Collection of American and European caricature drawings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


President Carter signs Public Law 95--129, which establishes a Center for the Book[Note: This should be a link to CFB] in the Library of Congress to "stimulate public interest and research in the role of the book in the diffusion of knowledge."


The Library receives the NBC Radio Collection of approximately 175,000 transcription discs covering eighty thousand hours of radio programming from 1926 to 1970.


The Library acquires a collection of papers, workbooks, and early experimental recordings of Emile Berliner, who invented disc recording in 1888.


The acquisition by purchase of two large printed globes by the seventeenth-century master Father Vincenzo Coronelli, dated 1688-93, makes the Library's collection of Coronelli's maps and globes virtually complete.


The original drawings for the Vietnam Memorial competition, including Maya Lin's winning design, are acquired by the Library.


The Moldenhauer collection of autograph music manuscripts, letters, and documents, one of the most significant collections of primary source materials in music ever assembled, is donated to the Library, establishing the Hans Moldenhauer Archives.


President George H.W. Bush signs Public Law 100--446, the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, which requires the Library to choose and preserve up to twenty-five "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" films in a National Film Registry each year.

Thumbnail image of physiological alphabet Thumbnail image of Alexander Graham Bell, his wife and 
son The Alexander Graham Bell Family Collection documents a great inventor. Bell's father, Alexander Melville Bell, developed this physiological alphabet. Pictured here, Alexander Graham Bell, his wife and son, attend the 1907 opening of Bell's tetrahedral tower.


The Library establishes a machine-readable collections reading room to serve materials in machine-readable formats, including microcomputer software programs and information or data files on microcomputer, compact, and video discs.


The Library acquires the Charles and Ray Eames collection of design, which includes more than 700,000 pieces, including papers, drawings, photographs and transparencies, graphics, and motion pictures.


The American Memory Project is established to begin sharing portions of the Library's Americana collections in electronic form.


LC Direct is inaugurated, offering state library agencies online access to the Library's bibliographic, subject, and name authority cards.


The Library acquires the Irving Berlin collection of more than 750,000 items, including the musical scores of many of Berlin's most popular compositions.


The 100 millionth item is added to the Library's collections.

Contents - Preface - Library of Congress - Collections
Buildings - Librarians - Further Reading - Concordance

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